West Philly Local: An emporium of locally made gifts

story by Courtney Sexton | photo by Albert YeeNeighborhood pride is alive and well in West Philadelphia thanks to VIX Emporium. Their “West Philly is the best Philly” logo, designed by local tattoo artist Justin Turkus, has developed a following, appearing on sweatshirts, t-shirts, notebooks and even aprons. The West Philly logo products are just one example of the unique, handmade items sold at VIX, which was opened five years ago by husband-wife team Sean and Emily Dorn.   

Before VIX opened, the building at 5009 Baltimore Avenue was abandoned had a rich retail history. In the 1930s, the Grumbine sisters from Lewiston, Pa. opened a millinery there; the custom-built wooden display cabinets and printed hatboxes still remain. The Dorns initially started VIX as a consignment shop, but transitioned into retail as more crafters asked to sell their work there. Today, the store sells items from more than 100 different artists and craftspeople.

“[VIX is] a great resource for local artists and for neighbors to find gifts,” says Emily, an artist herself. “I called it an emporium, not a boutique, not a gallery… but a gift store of all descriptions.” Now celebrating their fifth anniversary, VIX continues supporting local merchants, selling gift items like jewelry, pottery, handmade soaps and stationery. They host small workshops and artist launch parties, and help organize the “GO WEST! Craft Fest” annually at the Rotunda, which features local handmade wares. This February look for a new Valentine's craft market VIX is hosting at 30th Street Station. —Courtney Sexton

VIX Emporium, Tues-Sat., 5009 Baltimore Ave., 215-471-7700, vixemporium.com